Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve noticed the world has become increasingly politically divided. (Personally, I’d like to live under a rock so as to avoid the politics, but sadly, the world will not let me, much as I try.)
Anyway, if you are being bombarded with political info – and that would be pretty much everybody in the world – then you must, must, MUST listen to this podcast from the Art of Charm. It’s eye-opening, to say the least.
What I learned is that everything we think we know about our understanding of the issues is incorrect. Doesn’t matter how many articles or hours of news you watch either. No matter how hard you work to to be informed, the issues we face are so complex that you would have to dedicate your life to studying just one of them to truly understand it. There’s no way we can absorb all the nuances about everything going on in this world from reading a news article (or ten).
What’s more, everything presented to us is done so with an eye toward creating a visceral reaction rather than a logical one. In other words, the media, politicians, pundits, etc have motivations beyond delivering information, such as the desire for rating, the desire to be elected, or the desire to continue being a paid pundit. (Note: This isn’t about media bias or fake news. This is about business and the job of selling of ideas.)
Add into that our own very human way of processing information. For example, we see an expert discussing the issue on television. We like what this expert has to say. And, since he or she is considered an expert, we automatically decide his/her points are true. We don’t stop to think about what the expert themselves stand to gain (e.g. political capital, book sales, money, etc.)
Or, we believe information based on how often we see a fact repeated. This is especially true now with social media. Since our Facebook feed tends to reflect our personal viewpoints, we see the same points being posted over and over. As a result, we start to assume that’s the truth because “everyone we know thinks so” without looking at the other side.
The bottom line to all of this is no matter whether we’re Democrat, Republican, or in between, we’re not as unbiased or as informed as we think we are.
By the way, I am positive that people will tell they are the exception to the above, and that what I’m saying only applies to those people who disagree with their view point. Because again – human nature. Heck – I caught myself doing that exact thing during the podcast. It’s what we, as humans, do. (Which in itself is a fascinating psychological phenomenon.)
Still, the podcast is called the Seven Deadly Sins of Reading the News by Alex Kouts. and you really should listen. I know I’ll rethink how I look at all those Facebook memes and Twitter posts from both sides, from here on in.
By the way, if you’re a psychology junkie like I am, you may also enjoy this one on Understanding ISIS. The speaker discusses what might lead a person to become radicalized. Interesting stuff.